April 28, 2020 —  Fast Company has announced the winners of its World Changing Ideas Awards, which honor businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that offer innovative solutions to the issues facing humanity. Readability Matters is honored to be selected as a finalist in the Experimental category, which includes ventures that “have the potential to change how we think about an issue.”

Now in its fourth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 26 winners, along with finalists and honorable mentions. A panel of distinguished judges made up of designers, venture capitalists, thinkers, social entrepreneurs, and Fast Company editors. Selected awardees are from a pool of more than 3000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more.

For the last fifteen years, Founders Kathy Crowley and Marjorie Jordan have been talking to tech companies about the importance of treating reading as an individual activity, giving each reader material in their own preferred format to make them the best reader they can be. It turns out it is really difficult to launch a world-changing idea. The journey included everything from outright rejection to passive support, “when you find someone to lead, let us know; we’ll come along.” 

In 2015, it became apparent that the easier way to support personalized reading formats was to advocate for expanding the set of Readability Features offered in existing digital reading applications. The use of these features can allow readers to modify text size, shape, and spacing as separate adjustments, allowing for a richer set of format possibilities. In addition to the Readability Features, reader profiles and standards to share the profiles across apps will make personalized reading experiences possible at scale.

In April of 2019, the nonprofit Readability Matters launched to bring together the thinkers and the doers required to evolve tech platforms so that everyone everywhere can achieve more. The goal was to freely share information, insights, and experience with an ecosystem of partners to deliver personalized reading environments. Making it easier for children to acquire reading skills puts them on the path of life-long learning. Increasing reading performance in adults produces more life and career opportunities. The May 2019 Advancing the Reading Ecosystem whitepaper communicates a vision to advance the work. The time is right; technology is becoming increasingly more ubiquitous, offerings of Readability Features are continuing to emerge, and text personalization is becoming the norm.

Systems change requires an interdisciplinary approach. Tech, education, and research partners are collaborating to expand the possibilities of deploying Readability Features for readers. Readability achieved momentum in 2019 as researchers launched studies, published results (Wallace, Sawyer, Treitman, Bylinskii, and Huang – Accelerating Adult Readers, CHI), and planned work for 2020 (Connor’s WKE-Books for children.) Teams of thought leaders including ReadWorks and Digital Promise continue to explore opportunities and advance learnings, read more here.  What is your part in creating a world of personalized reading? Will you add features? Join a research team? Build supporting tools? Invest in building better reading with Readability Matters?

Other Fast Company honorees include big-name brands like Abbott, Google and Disney, and nonprofits like Girls Who Code and World Economic Forum. The 2020 awards featured entries from across the globe, from Vancouver to Singapore to Tel Aviv. Readability Matters is proud to be named among Fast Company’s celebrated world-changing ideas.

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”

 Read the Fast Company article here.


About Fast Company: Fast Company is the world’s leading business media brand, with an editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, creativity, and design. Written for and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company inspires readers to think expansively, lead with purpose, embrace change, and shape the future of business. 

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

About Readability Matters: The nonprofit Readability Matters works to build better reading. They advocate for a world where everyone has easy access to reading material personalized to make them the best reader they can be. Their mission is to engage an ecosystem of partners to deliver better reading environments, empowering everyone everywhere to achieve more.